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rhe Creatine 



FALL 1990 

Volume 10, No. 4 Fall 1990 


Governors State University, University Park, IL 60466 - 3193 

Published under the auspices of the provosts office, 
© 1990 governors state university and helen hughes 

ISSN 0736 - 4733 


I lelen E. Hughes, Editor 

Suzanne Oliver, Art Director 

Leone Middlelon, Assistant Designer 

Barbara Conant, Library Resources 

Nirmala Cano, Subscriptions 

Lynne Hostetter, Word Processing 

Linda Kuester, Word Processing 

Lynn Ann Lindvig, Editorial Consultant 

Pnscilla Rockwell, Editorial Consultant 

Hmily Wasiolek, Editorial Consultant 


Glenda Baily-Mershon, Illinois NOW/National Organization for Women, Oak Park, IL 

Donna Bandstra, Healthgroup International, Sherman Oaks, CA 

Margaret Brady, Social Sciences, Homewood, IL 

Rev. Ellen Dohner Livingston, Religion, Unitarian Society of Ponoma Valley, CA 

Rita Durrant, League of American Penwomen, Doylestown, PA 

Deborah Garretson, Counseling, Muncie, IN 

Temmie Gilbert, Theatre/ Media, Governors State University 

Linda Grace-Kobas, Journalism, University of Buffalo, NY 

Harriet Gross, Sociology/Women's Studies, Governors State University 

Helene N. Guttman, Biological Sciences, Bethesda, MD 

Bethe Hagens, Anthropology, Governors State University 

Barbara Jenkins, Psychology, Governors State University 

Betye Saar, Fine Arts, Hollywood, CA 

Sara Shumer, Political Theory, Haverford College, PA 

Rev. Lynn Thomas Strauss, Religion, Women's Studies/Parenting, Oak Park, IL 



3 Introduction 

4 Living Water Kendyl Gibbons 


7 Weavings: A Life in Teaching, Creativity and Spirituality Mary Endres Fyfe 

11 Transformations Anais Salibian 

14 The Music Box Elaine Garretson 

15 Kissed by General Pershing: A Child's View of World War I Barbara H. Hanson 

16 The Annual Faculty Barbecue Bash & Ironies Edith L. Perlmutter 

18 Advice to a Foolish Virgin & Five Minutes? Bess Shapiro 

19 The Listener Matt Barash 

20 The Rose Garden Sonja Weil 

21 An Album of Life Stories in Photographs Sherry Shapiro 

32 Greek Scstina Bonnie Schranz 

33 It's in the Air Margaret S. B. White 

34 Letters to the Editor 

Lynn Margulis 

Georg Feuerstein 

Bethe Responds 

Art Schmaltz 

Barbara Mann 

Dr. I. P. Lapin 

Rennie Quinn 

39 Book Review: Writing a Woman's Life, by Carolyn Heilbrun Lynn Thomas Strauss 

41 Announcements 

45 Editorial: Next Steps for the Peace and Justice Movement Diana Francis 


The Creative Woman is published three times a year by Governors 
State University. Wo focus on a special topic in each issue, presented, 
from a feminist perspective. We celebrate the creative achievements of 
women in many fields and appeal to inquiring minds. We publish 
fiction, poetry, book reviews, articles, photography and original graphics. 


Photograph by Sherry Shapiro 



There is "a flaw in the center" of women's writing, 
wrote Virginia Woolf, sixty years ago, in her 
milestone essay, A Room of One's Own: 
"She. ..altered her values in deference to the opin- 
ion of others." We wish that Virginia Woolf could 
see the writing produced by women today. What 
would she say about Toni Morrison's Beloved, for 

In this special issue on Life Stories, contemporary 
women give us their stories and their values 
without fear, without "deference to the opinion of 
others," with candor, humor and truth and some- 
times passion. They range from the long view — a 
life synopsis — such as the pieces by Mary Endres 
Fyfe and Elaine Garretson, to an in-depth exami- 
nation of one incident and its resonance in the 
context of a life by Anais Salibian, to vignettes, 
single incidents recalled from the perspective of 
maturity, such as the stories by Barbara Hanson, 
Edith Perlmutler, Bess Shapiro and Matt Barash, 
the members of Bernard Selling's writing class, 
and Sonja Weil, a student of Molly Daniels. 

In a community building in Los Angeles, a small 
group of men and women have been meeting 
weekly in recent years in a Life Stories writing 
class taught by Bernard Selling, author of a 
method which he has described in his book, 
Writing From Within. They write during the week, 
then bring their stories to class, read them aloud, 
and subject them to the literary criticism of the 
class. Their polished stories are collected annually 
and distributed in bound volumes. It is from this 
rich treasure that we present here a few gems from 
the collection. 


Sherry Kromer Shapiro, after degrees in English 
Literature and Secondary Education, studied at 
the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and the 
Evanston Art Center. She has worked profession- 
ally as an interior and architectural photographer 
since 1977. "However," she writes, "once the 
technical aspects of the medium were mastered, 
the challenge was gone. It was only when I turned 

my attention to women's issues, which were my 
personal concerns, that I found my voice." 

Since 1985 she has photographed women exclu- 
sively. The photographs and texts herein are a 
small sample of a very large work, containing 
hundreds of portrait-stories. When men ask her 
why she does not work with men, she asks them if 
there are any men working with men as she is 
working with women. Her work does not take a 
separatist position. Shapiro comments, "I believe 
many more men would adopt a feminist position 
if they perceived feminism as a discourse instead 
of a diatribe. Even though men are not photo- 
graphed in this series, they, along with children 
and family, are ever-present in the conversations. 
It is my hope that men will welcome the access to 
women's lives that this work provides." 

Each photograph presents a woman in her envi- 
ronment, drawn from varying age, income, ethnic, 
educational and social groups. "The narratives 
convey what the photographic images cannot 
show. I wanted to get beyond superficialities and 
learn what was important to these women. I work 
with women because their lives inform my own. 
Through image and text, this work is about mono- 
logues that become dialogues; it is about commu- 
nicating in order to become a community." 

We especially invite the reader's attention to our 
unusual section of Letters to the Editor. In the best 
tradition of scholarly discourse, Lynn Margulis 
(co-author with James Lovelock of the Gaia Hy- 
pothesis) and George Feuerstein (Gebserian 
philosopher and translator of Sanskrit) have 
entered their responses to our last issue on Gaia: 
The Living Planet. And to open and close this 
issue we present addresses by Rev. Kendyl Gib- 
bons and Diana Francis, inducing this editor to 
yield (for once) her accustomed place in Editor's 

We welcome your letters, comments, criticisms 
and thoughts that may come to you as spin-offs of 
these voices and images. Readers are invited: send 
us your life stories. 

The next issue will be an update on men, co-guest 
edited by David Matteson and Art Schmaltz 




Kendyl Gibbons 

I approach the opportunity to address this gather- 
ing with some trepidation, for I am never perfectly 
sure that I am, in fact, a "real" feminist. I function 
too easily within the world of patriarchy, I think. 
Being white, middle-class, educated, the world has 
been good to me. Too good. Unfairly good. I 
understand that the privileges that I have enjoyed 
have come, mostly in circuitous ways, out of the 
rights and well-being of others. And the ways in 
which I have suffered are in the upper areas of 
Maslow's hierarchy: meaning, identity, the frustra- 
tion of my self-actualization. Nor is my lifestyle 
particularly radical. I am suited to the work that I 
do, but it doesn't pay me enough to live in the 
same neighborhood as the church, so I drive a car. 
The other adults in my household take the train to 
jobs downtown, but they drive cars to take the 
kids to child care and themselves to the train 
station. I like to wear makeup, sometimes. I like 
to watch TV, sometimes. One wall of my garage is 
completely stacked with four years' worth of daily 
newspapers, waiting to be recycled. Oh, I do 
support myself, and I vote for pro-choice candi- 
dates, and I have marched in ERA rallies, and I 
write letters to the editor and letters to my 
congresspeople, sometimes. But I always have 
this nagging feeling that if I were a real feminist, a 
serious feminist, something would be different. 

If I were a real feminist, either my house would be 
clean, or I truly wouldn't care. 

If I were a real feminist, I would change the oil in 
my car myself. If I were a real feminist, I would 
like tofu. 

If I were a real feminist, I wouldn't sew Barbie 
dresses for my niece, no matter how much she 
begged me. 

If I were a real feminist, I would be able to carry a 
chanting tune, and my sexual fantasies would be 

So. Maybe what I really am is a feminist in train- 
ing. Or what used to be called, in another context, 
an aspirant. I am on the path to becoming that 
woman who is both competent and gracious, who 
fully owns her being and feeling and doing, who 
makes decisions with integrity, and without the 
vacillations and uncertainties that periodically 
wrack me. 

What stands in the way, on a deep level, is my 
addiction to approval. I learned, a long time ago, 
to find my value and my identity in the eyes of 
others. I know this much, but it is not enough just 
to know it. You can know that you are addicted to 
heroin, but that knowledge doesn't make the 
reality of withdrawal any less terrible, or the high 
of the hit any less painfully sweet. Indeed, I have 
known since grade school that there is something 
wrong with this craving. My peers were always 
cruelly clear in this message, but it is only lately 
that I have come to understand that they were, 
clumsily and instinctively, trying to tell me some- 
thing vital to my own health. Nevertheless, the 
craving for approval persists. I have learned, over 
the years, techniques for denying it, for down- 
playing it, for keeping it out of sight. I can even, 
sometimes, briefly, force myself to do things that I 
know may bring disapproval. If I expect it's 
coming, I can bear it. When it hits me unexpect- 
edly, it still devastates me. 

How, then, I ask myself, am I to be a real feminist? 
For I am presented with a seemingly impossible 
demand. I am called, on the one hand, to speak 
out of my own experience; to be in touch with my 
feelings, to trust what I know in my gut. And I am 
challenged, on the other hand, to reject the hier- 
archical structures which are the most reliable 
source of the purest form of the poisoned candy 
which I crave. To live a life of daring and experi- 
ment, not caring what other people think, except, 
of course, that I care what you think; you, the 
women who value and model and lift up in your 
lives those ways of being to which I, in my 
healthier moments, aspire. And so, of course, I 
want your approval. If I were a real feminist, I 
wouldn't, but I do. 

Nevertheless, I do not despair. There is a path out 
of this dilemma; there is always a road out of hell, 
whatever hell we've gotten ourselves into — that's 
my Universalist faith. There are ways for me to 
become whole, and the feminist tradition is an 
important part of that path. These are the things I 
think of as living water, after the ancient promise 
that "she who drinks of these shall never thirst 
again." Living waters are the streams of life that 
help toward wholeness, the forces and experiences 
that offer real nourishment to a growing soul in 
place of the brief highs and cravings of our vari- 
ous addictions. 


The first source of living water 
for me, and I have to keep 
returning to this, is self-knowl- 
edge and self-acknowledgement. 
However wrong the craving is, I 
gain power over it and it loses 
power over me when I name it 
and admit that it is there. When- 
ever I am too frightened or too 
ashamed to recognize what 
I feel, I become trapped. 
This is part of the discipline 
of my feminist 
aspirancy; to learn to 
tell the truth to and 
about myself. 

The second 
stream of 
living water 
from which I 
drink is 

participation in 
genuine com- 
munity. I 
about this 
first as a 
student at 

Lombard. There, both 
the faculty and my 
fellow students fed 
me such a 
steady diet of 
affirmation — 
not the 
same kick 
as ap- 
proval, but 
better for 
you in the 
long run — 
that my craving 
was momentarily 
stilled, and I was able to 
ask what else I wanted in 
life. And the answer was 
to be a part. To be a mem- 
ber of a group that was en- 
gaged in work that was serious 
and important. To have a place. 
To be able to give and receive in a 

natural rhythm not forced either 
by demand or attempted bribery. 
To be able to take it for granted 
that I belonged. In fact, it was not 
clear to me until the experience of 
seminary was over, what exactly 
had been so nourishing about it. 
Now I look for that kind of com- 
munity, and treasure it where I 
find it: in the family I have 
assembled as an adult; 
in certain committees and 
groups in my congregation; in 
gatherings of local and 
district ministerial col- 
leagues; in the Meadville/ 
Lombard board — people with 
whom I am working on 
things that matter. 

There is a third 

stream of living 

water which I am 

now discovering, from 

whose fountain I am 

attempting to drink. 
I am not even 
sure what to 
name it — 
someone has 
called it non- 
addiction to results; 
perhaps it is what 
is known as detach- 
ment. What I know 
is that part of 
my addiction 
to approval is 
a feeling of 
of needing to 
be in charge of the 
quality of everyone's 
experience of 
everything. On 
one level, of 
course, this is 
absurd — no one has 
or should have that 
kind of power. But I can 
identify with scientist 
Lewis Thomas, who speaks 
about holding a pencil point on 


a pad of yellow paper on the desk in his office in 
New York, and by sheer force of mind and con- 
centration, shifting the rotation of earth, sun, solar 
system and universe to center around that pencil 
point. He admits that it is challenging to get it 
started, but once you've done it, he says, it is 
exhilarating, and difficult to stop. Yes, I know that 

Being constantly in control is a terrible burden, but 
if I am not responsible, then it isn't a validation of 
my existence when someone is happy, and it's 
hard to give that up. But the living water whis- 
pers to me, "Let go." It flows without my pushing 
it. It says, "Your task is to love and to create; the 
universe, the river, the Goddess receives all that 
you do and weaves it into a much larger tapestry; 
be less concerned with the outcome than with the 
integrity of the process." Mother Teresa, who 
must be a model of non-addiction to results, says 
that we are not called to be successful, we are 
called to be faithful. To be sure, this does not 
mean that living water is to be found in deliberate 
or negligent incompetence. I want my work to be 
good work, but then I want to learn to let go of it. 
I don't really believe that there are cosmic hands 
to receive it, but I do believe that the stream flows 
on, carrying the effects of my actions to distant 
shores. I can waste a lot of my life and myself 
waving vainly, as bowlers do, at a ball that has 
already been rolled. 

And then, finally, there is the new piece, the piece 
that I am not at all certain of yet, the living water 
that I may, perhaps, be discovering here. Maybe, 
just maybe being whole doesn't have to mean 
never being needy. Maybe all of us have these 
hidden deserts of craving, these wounded places. 
Maybe all of us are aspirants to the kind of integ- 
rity I yearn for, however good we may look on the 
outside to others. Maybe even real, bona fide 
feminists need approval, sometimes. Partly 
because we are only just discovering together 
what we have the potential to become as women; 
partly because when we are in relationship with 
others, we do, in fact, genuinely care what they 
think of us. Here is living water indeed — the hope 
that I am not even so wrong as I had thought; that 
what I have been accustomed to call addiction 
may be a healthy impulse, distorted, that can 
someday be healed and restored. I am not sure 
yet; it will take some time for me to know whether 
this is, truly, living water. It will take you, all of 

us, being brave enough to let each other see the 
broken places. Not just the wounds of our oppres- 
sion — those we have learned to share, and that 
process is vital, life-saving — but also to let one 
another be aware of our own imperfections, our 
addictions and denials, the ways in which we fall 
short of the ideals that we set before ourselves. 
We must keep those ideals. We must share and 
celebrate and rejoice in our strength. We must 
never go back to believing that our womanhood is 
in itself a flaw. But oh, my sisters, it is living 
water to me, and perhaps to you, to know that the 
struggles within are shared as well as the outer 
ones; to believe, in my own yearning toward 
wholeness, that we are all in this together. 

The Reverend Kendyl Gibbons is minister of the DuPage 
Unitarian Church of Naperville, Illinois. This address was 
delivered at Womanquest, a conference on feminist spiritual- 
ity at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, April 22, 1990. 



Mary Endres Fyfe 

I began teaching in a one-room school where 
about thirty children were in attendance in grades 
one through eight. I was eighteen years old and 
had had two years of work at Western Illinois 
State Teacher's College, and I had studied a book 
entitled: The State of Illinois Course of Study, 
Grades 1-8. Besides, along with my brothers and 
sister, I had myself attended one-room schools. I 
wanted to be a teacher — a good teacher — more 
than anything else. That first day finally came. 
With that Course of Study beside me, I was ready. 
Those of you who have had similar expectations 
and experiences can imagine quite accurately 
what took place. Not a child — not one — knew 
what I was talking about when I "used" the 
materials and assignments listed under "Septem- 
ber, Week 1." So I tried turning back in The 
Course of Study to use the guides for what they 
should have covered late in the previous year. 
But, alas! that also seemed unknown and untried. 

We were getting to know each other and were 
becoming friends. We had wonderful times on 
the playground and doing things together in the 
classroom, such as telling stories, singing, making 
the schoolroom attractive, identifying trees and 
wild flowers. But alas! no book learning! By the 
end of the first week, I made a trip to talk with 
the County Superintendent to tell her about my 

problem. By this time, I was sure that the chil- 
dren had not had a very good teacher the previ- 
ous year, and that the Superintendent would help 
me deal with that. 

And that she did! She spoke sharply to me about 
all teachers doing the best they can, that children 
forget over the summer and need help in recall- 
ing previous learnings, and that I must work 
hard. I can't remember that she gave me any 
encouragement or real help with the teaching 
process. It is quite possible that she did because 
she was a thoughtful and kind person. I was 
simply devastated by the situation. But I still had 
the burning desire to teach, and realized that I 
was on my own to make that happen. 

Let me summarize some of the things which 
occurred. Right away, I became a keen observer 
of the children. Among the little ones, I noticed 
that the children who were friendlier, healthier, 
and more independent also were better students. 
I noticed the children in first grade who were 
losing their baby teeth were able to read earlier. 
The happy outgoing children did their work 
better and without delay. I became aware that 
children who had adequate and balanced lunches 
listened well and concentrated longer on their 
school tasks. 

I remember a young day-dreamer, a boy about 
nine or ten, who simply wasn't with us — unless 
he was teasing or shoving or quarreling angrily 
with someone. He had no friends at school. He 
was always chosen last in any game. Then one 
day for the first time he hit a ball when he was 
up to bat. Everyone cheered. That afternoon he 
was a model cooperative student. His physical 
coordination, his social behavior, and his school 
work continued to improve from that day for- 
ward. He easily made friends with others. 

I learned that if I linked each assignment from 
The Course of Study with something in the per- 
sonal lives of the students or with their previous 
learnings, their study efforts, written materials, 
and class discussions were much improved. 
Learning new things became pleasant and attain- 

I also learned about individual differences. Some 
children not only learned more easily, thev 
learned at a faster rate. Often these children 
helped others learn. They became assistants 
working with other children under my supervi- 

Miss McGaughey came to visit our school during 
the fourth week of September, giving us much 
praise, a wonderful occasion for all of us. She 
never mentioned my visit with her during the 
first week; nor did I. I am amazed at the teacher 
I am and can be when I am true to my journey. I 
believe my ability to teach evolved spiritually and 

As time went on, it became very clear that the 
children and I needed parents to be involved 
with us in the educational process. For the child, 
the parent, and for me, it was so much easier for 
all if we operated as a team. It was apparent that 
if a child was not getting along well at school 
socially or academically, the parent knew about 
it, wanted help, wanted to help, and deserved to 
be involved. On the other hand, the parent of the 
child who learns easily and has many gifts appre- 
ciated a closeness with those of us at the school. 

Much of what I needed to learn about teaching I 
learned as a beginning teacher. True, I believe I 
continued to grow in skills and understanding as 
my teaching opportunities expanded to the 
university level, to settings outside educational 
institutions, and to international assignments. I 
am aware now, perhaps because I am writing this 
paper, that from that first year forward the 
curriculum and instruction grew out of the needs 
of individuals and resources available. I also 
learned that involved individuals assisted in the 
planning, and took responsibility for outcomes 
regardless of age, color, previous learnings or 

I continued to teach in rural elementary schools 
for eleven years. 

The children were attending one-room school- 
houses with pot-bellied stoves, outside pumps 
and outside toilets. The schools were not only 
inefficient but were burdensome to maintain and 
to staff. However, it took much wrangling and 
bitter arguments to work through the problem. I 
remember on one occasion the farmers were 
accused of housing their cows better than their 

Finally, twenty-three small districts came together 
as Rural Consolidated District 10, Woodstock, 
Illinois, and I was asked to be the first Superin- 
tendent. Using the community school concept, the 
curriculum and instruction grew out of commu- 
nity needs and the utilization of resources found 
within the neighborhoods and beyond. New 

education guides were developed, in-service 
programs organized, and new buildings planned. 
I found that working with teachers, however 
different on the surface, was similar to teaching. 
Teachers liked meeting in groups with other 
teachers, identifying problems, selecting materi- 
als, and making decisions important to them. For 
me, it was teaching on a different level. We 
worked with the adults, parents and non-parents, 
in such a way that schools became central to the 
community. We were all partners in the educa- 
tion of the children. 

Stories about our schools were published in 
periodicals, books, and even in a documentary 
film. Was I creative? Yes, I was. Was I spiritual? 
Yes, indeed. I ministered lovingly and long to 
the children, their teachers, the parents, and the 
community. And overwhelming caring, concern 
and joy were given back to me. 

Next stop was Purdue University, where I re- 
mained for seventeen years except when on leave 
for assignments in Pakistan and Nigeria. I was in 
Nigeria when President Kennedy was assassi- 
nated. I was appalled during the long hot sum- 
mer when water hoses and police dogs were 
turned on children who were marching in Ala- 
bama, and three young civil rights activists were 
killed in Mississippi. Alone in the bush of Nige- 
ria, I asked myself, "What am I doing in Africa? 
The problems of black communities at home are 
challenging enough." Upon returning to Purdue, 
I took advantage of the University's liberal policy 
for outside consulting along with my regular job. 
Assignments resulted that took me to black rural 
Mississippi for the Head Start Programs, the 
Parent and Child Center in the black, urban 
Hough area of Cleveland, the Urban Education 
Laboratory in Atlanta, and the black community 
of Lafayette, Indiana. Looking back, I realize 
that great care and concern for my well being was 
extended generously by the black people with 
whom I lived and worked in this country and in 
Nigeria. I am grateful. 

My last academic position was Vice President for 
Academic Affairs at Governors State University, 
where forty percent of the students were African 

During the thirty-two years I was working in 
administrative positions, I taught at least one 
class each session. Teaching remained satisfying 
and fulfilling. 

I hope I have made it clear to you that all I 
learned that first year of teaching was lived and 
extended over and over again in each assignment 
of my professional life. As a result I have en- 
joyed wonderful experiences literally all over the 
world as others gave to me their gifts of caring, 
support, cooperation, wisdom, love, and trust. I 
retired after forty-three good years. 

I have thought and read about this topic for a 
very long time. The words creativity and spiritu- 
ality are often used, but seldom clearly defined. 
They remain elusive, mysterious, beyond experi- 
ence. What we consider "familiar" is based on 
our past experience. The artist helps us to see the 
world we have always known, in a completely 
different way: making the strange familiar and 
the familiar seem strange. There are many people 
who prefer not being jolted into new ways of 
experiencing. The creative person thrives on 
ideas and visions which change forever their 
previous notions. The world is hungry for cre- 
ative expressions of the spirit. Within each 
person lies creative and spiritual energy. 

Today, we find ourselves in the midst of perhaps 
the most perilous times ever. Some would say 
there is little in our culture to encourage either 
creativity or the spiritual life. We have few 
choices: either we allow a creative reverence to 
be expressed through us, or we destroy those we 
love and our earth. We must all become artists; 
we must all become engaged in creative activity 
and with the source of our being. This implies a 
spiritual approach. 

When creative persons reach into their depths 
and bring forth things genuine — a song, a piece 
of pottery, an idea, a relationship — a union is 
formed between people and the Creator. This can 
be called a spiritual experience, and it truly is. 

Look back at high points in your life. They 
usually come when we discard something and 
take a step forward. Sometimes there is pain 
associated with this step forward because we 
don't want to leave something behind, but usu- 
ally when we do, we grow. With each new 
awakening we discard some cherished viewpoint 
or reintegrate it into a larger outlook. This is the 
creative process. 

Like any work of art, this is an individual process 
that comes from within. Since the creative pro- 
cess is so closely linked with the spiritual, this 
makes for transpersonal development. 

For a very long 
time I yearned to 
learn to weave. 
The realization 
that weaving 
takes a commit- 
ment of time and 
effort prompted 
me to defer that 
activity until 
retirement. So 
with eagerness, 
some timidity, 
and clumsy 
fingers, I enrolled 
in a weaving 
class. It was 
exciting. The 
process was 
interesting; the weavers were talented and artis- 
tic; I saw textures and colors in a new way. I 
was a slow learner in weaving, but I loved it. 

Yarns with stubby textures and exotic colors were 
hard to come by in the south suburbs where I 
lived. After having to drive twenty-five to forty 
miles to purchase the kinds of yarn I wanted, I 
decided to open a fiber arts store. So with a little 
study, a self-made market survey, and the advice 
of small business consultants, I opened a shop. 
We offered materials, equipment and classes in 
stitchery, knitting, quilting, basketry, spinning, 
and weaving. Business was good; customers 
were pleasant. But again I had no time to weave. 
For seven years I operated the business until it 
became just too energy and time consuming. So I 
sold it — intending to return to weaving seri- 

And then there was Fine Line. The Fine Line is 
housed in a restored barn north of St. Charles. 
Students are drawn from many miles to visit and 
then remain to study, to get in touch with their 
own creativity. Denise Kavanaugh, Director, 
with Geraldine and Peter Julian, all Sisters of St. 
Francis, live in the barn and operate the center. I 
find it interesting that each of these women had 
teaching careers for many, many years. Their 
religious order has a history of encouraging the 
sisters to respond to societal needs, to grow in the 
use of their own gifts, and to share them with 
others. I went to Fine Line with a great social 
and personal need to re-establish personal self- 
esteem and become a giving person again. I 

wanted to learn to weave and found a center with 
a mission statement which includes: 

The world is hungry for artistic expressions of the 

Within each person lies creative energy. 

Release of creative energy enhances self-esteem. 

Awareness of creative power enables people to 
improve their lives and the lives of those they 

Denise is the best teacher I have ever observed. 
Because I am a slow weaver (please note — I did 
not say slow learner), I am in the loom room 
many hours and have observed her teaching 
many classes in beginning weaving as well as 
advanced classes using difficult, intricate pat- 
terns. I have heard her say to beginners, as she 
said to me, "If you can count to four you can 
learn to weave." 

The mission statement further includes: 

I have shared with you how in my early experi- 
ences I discovered a process for learning /teach- 
ing which served me a lifetime in the "education" 
world. I found a similar process effectively 
utilized at Fine Line which helps me be whole 
again as well as having a passing ability to 

My wish for all of you is that somewhere you, 
too, may have your special 'Tine Line" where 
you can heal, grow, perhaps forgive, perform, 
and look forward to your creative spiritual jour- 
neys. Let us be especially patient with ourselves 
as we search for ways to love creatively and 
spiritually. Writing this paper has been an 
adventure in self-discovery as well as self-under- 
standing. It puts the past to rest. Thank you 
most sincerely for giving me this gift. 

This article is extracted from the annual Plummer Lecture 
which Dr. Mary Endres Fyfe presented at Illinois Yearly 
Meeting of the Society of Friends in McNabb, Illinois in 
August 1990. For a copy of her entire address, readers may 
write to David Finke, 1157 East 52nd Street, Chicago, IL 

The value of the artistic experience is not only 
personal but has ramification which affects family 
and community life. 

The center will provide an atmosphere for releasing 
and channeling creative energies. 

The goal of our curriculum will be to provide good 
instruction, valuable learning experiences, and 
quality leisure activities for the public we serve. 

Since Fine Line opened about eleven years ago, it 
has moved twice to have more space — the last 
time to the huge barn. Presently, planning is 
under way for expansion at that site. A group of 
at least fifty volunteers actively assist in the 
operation of the center. Denise just says simply, 
"Something always happens." I say, "A way 
will open." 




Anais Salibian 


All the 
way to 

park, I 
my fear. It 
is well past 
midnight, but 
as always there 
are a few head- 
lights slicing 
through the night. 
I'm small; I'm a 
woman; I'm alone. 
I'm so scared to be seen 
that I nearly give up my 
purpose here. But fear 
hardens into stubbornness. 
It's near the end of March. 
We've had a few warm 
days; today it rained and 
so the night I've been 
waiting for is tonight. Out 
of the whole year, there are 
only one or two nights that 
one can see salamanders 
emerging from their underground 
homes to migrate to their breeding ponds, and I 
refuse to be prevented from seeing them. 

I remind myself that there is more danger on the 
street where I live, where I walk alert but un- 
afraid at this hour. But here there's no recourse 
and no rescue. I clothe myself in the fierceness of 
my grandfather, who was stalked for two days in 
the mountains of Turkey by two men who 
wanted to murder him. He slept with his sword 
and his gun. They attacked in the middle of the 
second night; his self-defense was so vigorous 
they concluded he couldn't be Armenian and so 
retreated. My gait takes on the fierceness that 
helped him survive those years of carnage. My 
quick, large strides jerk in anger. My fingers are 
stiff curves, ready to strike. 

The first section of the trail passes through open 
meadows and sparse woods. To be invisible, I 
forgo my flashlight. Soon, my reason for walking 
in the darkness becomes just itself: to know 

things I can't know in the daylight. There's an 
invisible quarter moon behind today's rainclouds 
imparting a grey-whiteness to the air which is the 
only source of light. I can't see much, but I'm on 
a familiar trail and know where to go left at the 
fork. As soon as I enter pine forest, I'm in another 
world; it gets even darker and everything 
changes. The drop in temperature awakens my 
skin. My feet sink into soft dirt And suddenly 
everything here — the air, the trees, the 
ground — absorbs all sound. 

I walk in the dark having to feel everything. I let 
my feet fall gently, weight moving attentively 
from heel to toes, to tell me where the trail is. I 
wonder how I go through daylight forgetting that 
my entire body is a sense organ. I don't have to 
reach out to touch anything with my hands. It all 
comes to me in the air. My face knows when I 
walk out of pines into hardwoods again. My ears 
know an expansion of space around me and are 
reaching ahead of me for a sound I wasn't aware 
of anticipating. I ascend the steep slope. As soon 
as the descent begins, I hear the peepers calling 
and the wood frogs clacking their incredible 
chorus. I am jubilant. 

Halfway down the slope, I feel the hill's protec- 
tive presence covering my back like a giant hand. 
No one will follow me here. Now I can pay 
attention to the slow awakening of trees. Maybe 
now I can leave behind childhood horror stories 
of schoolchildren massacred, of pregnant women 
eviscerated, of my grandfather tortured, my 
grandfather leading his family out of genocide 
into a new existence. Half a globe away and three 
quarters of a century later, I need a hill at my 
back before I can walk with my hands open, 
claws unsheathed. 

Another bend in the trail to the left and I come to 
the temporary pond where the salamanders lay 
their eggs, where the wood frogs are now so 
loud. To see the salamanders, I turn on my 
flashlight. The suddenness of the silence is star- 
tling; the frogs stop their chorus as though a 
curtain has crashed down on their performance. I 
go over to the log I know to be an excellent 
salamander-watching spot and shine my light 
down into the water. It takes a moment to adjust 
to what I'm seeing: a mosaic of last year's leaves, 
twigs and branches, and suddenly a graceful, 
gliding movement. I follow it, poke around the 
leaves and see a yellow-spotted salamander. 

I l 

I don't know why I feel as satisfied as if some 
impossible prayer has been answered. I let my 
flashlight beam grope around in the water and 
find the spot where they are swarming: bodies 
upon bodies of salamanders; everywhere you 
look there's life in this water. They're all over 
each other, nosing and rubbing, inducing the 
males to deposit their spermatophores. I can see, 
floating all over the water, the tiny white globules 
the females take up into their bodies. And there 
are eggs along the rushes and sticks in the pond. 
They must belong to the blue-spotted salaman- 
ders, which live closer and have arrived sooner. 

Feeling monstrous, I reach down to pick one up, 
giving in to my childlike longing to hold a live 
thing in my hands. With some difficulty because 
of its slippery skin, I turn it over to see the swol- 
len vent on its belly just below its hind legs. I 
wonder if I'm holding a male or female, but it is 
entirely possible that this whole population of 
blues is female with triploid or tetraploid chro- 
mosomes which don't need to be complemented 
by the "other half" — to me, a small miracle. 

The life of a salamander is full of ordinary events 
I don't know how to comprehend. The most 
astonishing is the transformation it undergoes 
from one kind of creature to another. If I come 
back in a month or two, I'll see hatchlings from 
the eggs that make it through incubation before 
this pond dries up. A salamander larva has short 
legs, a vertically broad tail, fins and gills. At the 
base of the neck near the gills are rows of "bal- 
ancers" like extravagant fringed scarves which 
start disappearing in a couple of weeks. Suddenly 
one day in about three months, the larva finds 
itself transformed from an aquatic, diurnal crea- 
ture to something with spots that crawls on land 
and must avoid the sun. It slithers off into the 
woods with a new body and a new way of being 
in the world. 

Every year (for up to seventeen years) it returns 
to where it began life to add its piece of creation. 
Salamanders have been documented in New York 
State, even in this very park, to appear yearly 
between March 13 and April 13 since the turn of 
the century. They have been doing this for a 
hundred million years. 

I don't have the habit of relying on much external 
to myself, but I have come to count on the 
reliability of salamanders. Every year I return to 
be present at this homecoming, for they do a 

simple thing I cannot do. I am an exile from a 
homeland I have never seen. I yearn to be in the 
landscape of my ancestors, crowned by a sacred 
mountain; my planned pilgrimage to Armenia 
ended with borders closed against foreigners. But 
here there is something larger than imagination 
or desire for me. Each detail I can learn about 
salamanders — what they eat, where they live, 
what they do in winter — invites me into inti- 
macy with this landscape. Simply knowing when 
to find them is to be in touch with the personal 
life of the planet. 

My awareness that these salamanders are in 
danger, that their habitats are disappearing cuts 
deep, scraping against the old wound of belong- 
ing to a people who know what it is to stand on 
the brink of extinction. I pick up a yellow-spotted. 
It wriggles its seven-inch length, then stays still in 
my hand, little fingers gripping my skin. I am 
delighted by everything I see: bright yellow polka 
dots against the greyish skin, a mouth shaped 
like a smile of perpetual kindness, protruding 
eyes that blink and disappear completely into its 
head, then pop out again. Something about the 
creases in its leg joints is filling me with tender- 
ness, particularly when I think of the formidable 
dangers it faced to get here. A sudden drop in 
temperature could have frozen it or the surface of 
the pond. Maybe this salamander travelled a few 
days or a week, stopping to take cover from both 
heat and cold, braving the crossing of meadows 
where it could have been dehydrated by the sun. 

As it sits in my hand, I feel along with it the tug 
of the web of its life: the insects it eats, the snakes 
and birds that eat it, the dead trees, that, return- 
ing to earth, make its home, the algae that pro- 
vide oxygen for its developing eggs, the path of 
the earth around the sun that makes March. My 
hand feels the weight of these countless, invisible 
threads which weave the salamander's life firmly 
into the fabric of the greater life I call "the 
woods," which includes the constellations over- 
head and the impact of my footfalls on thawing 
ground. Faced with the force of these connections 
multiplied and multiplied outward, my feelings 
of grief or anger at the danger humans pose seem 
puny. I find something being called out of me 
that rises up from my belly like a slow, reluctant 
sun. I don't know what it is until its warm taste 
bursts in my mouth and its name in my mind, 
and I am shocked: trust. The world is forcing me 
into a state of trust! 



Here we are, a soft-skinned salamander in my 
hand, me, child of another continent, dwarfed by 
these tall North American trees. What odds we 
have overcome, embedded in relationships to the 
earth, its path through the cosmos, and to each 
other. Gently I slip the salamander back into the 
water. I turn off my flashlight and sit on the log, 
becoming as still as my seat, as still as the dark- 
ness itself. Like a piece of clay whose edges you 
can smear to blend it into something larger, my 
edges disappear into the folds and bends of this 
hollow. The wood frogs start their enthusiastic 
chorus of clacking again. Assured that things are 
as they were before I came, I start back for my 

A fog has come up. Enough light from the invis- 
ible moon is coming through to illuminate the 
white veils the trees are wearing, veils that float 
between them, shred, and reform. Just at the edge 
of the deep pine forest, as I am about to enter the 
more open woods and meadows, mystery over- 
takes me. Not three feet away from me, a few 
inches off the ground where the edge of the trail 
must be, two pairs of eyes gleam at me, green, 
fluorescent. It's too dark, too misty, to see to 
whom they belong, but there is life there, fur and 
paws. The luminescent eyes rise and fall a bit as 
they shift for a better view of me. Their compan- 
ionship is the opening for the power of the whole 
forest awakening into green to rush into me like 
a wind. At the same time I become aware, with 
mounting alarm, of something else. I can almost 
see a tight blackness on the trail tiptoeing around 
on talons, ready to strike. I recognize myself as I 
came down the path earlier, wrapped in fierce- 
ness as if I were walking my grandfather's road, 
well insulated from the salamander and its world. 
This dark, clawed thing is closed against the 
power in the air surging through my body. It 
cannot know that I am in a world where un- 
known night creatures and a human being do 
not run from each other. Its blind fierceness is the 
most dangerous thing walking these woods 
tonight. If I cloak myself in it again, it will be a 
magnet for harm. Yet we are drawn to each other. 
I step towards it. Is it something I am doing or 
the cool March breeze that allows it to dissipate 
into the night air between my open arms, 
watched by two pairs of green eyes? 

For a fleeting moment, I want to blame myself for 
bringing this ugliness here, but I can't. I have 

spent entire days looking at the sunlight spaces 
between leaves, at their shimmering shadows on 
rocks. I've overturned logs, searched the bottoms 
of ponds, stared for hours into the night sky. I 
have lain in the utter darkness of the forest floor 
on clear, moonless nights feeling the tread of 
woodland animals on my body. Nowhere in this 
universe have I found a trace of judgment or 
blame. Rather, an excess of gifts, freely given, and 
thus, alternatives. I can feel the fist that gripped 
my grandfather's heart lose its grip on mine. My 
new body is opening as if my pores have discov- 
ered breath, my muscles, fluidity, and my stance, 
grace. I walk in a world that welcomes me home. 

Anais Salibian lives in Rochester, New York where she has a 
private practice in therapeutic massage. 




Elaine Garretson 

I think that we often project soul into inanimate 
objects. As a child I remember taking care of my 
dolls as though they could think and feel. It still 
distresses me to see an armless doll tossed care- 
lessly into the street. As I look back over a long life 
of concern and feeling for all living things, both 
plant and animal, I see also many inanimate objects 
which, under certain circumstances, have aroused 
unforgettable emotions. 

As I was growing up I had a favorite older cousin 
who helped nudge me through the awkward, self- 
conscious years. She attended my birthday parties, 
piano recitals and school programs. She gave me 
wonderful gifts: a blouse with sleeves that weren't 
too short, a lovely barrette that made my straight, 
unruly hair feel better, a ring with my very own 
birthstone in it. On my eleventh birthday she 
presented me with a musical powder box. It was a 
gloriously grown-up gift. I loved its pearly pink and 
gold finish and the picture of Baroque angels on its 
cover. To make the box almost unbearably delight- 
ful, upon lifting the cover it played "Rose-Marie, I 
Love You" in mellow, true tones. 

My younger brother was also entranced with the 
music box. At night, after we were sent to bed, he 
would creep into my room. We would wind up the 
music box and then fall asleep as its mechanism 
unwound and the music faded slowly into the 

A growing girl's bedroom, if she is lucky enough to 
have one, can be a much needed sanctuary. Mine 
certainly was. This was the place where I could be 
the real me. This was the place where I dreamed, 
fantasized, unraveled problems and cried. The top 
of my dresser was filled with treasured objects. 
Beside the usual comb and brush sat perfume 
bottles, pictures of friends, a jewelry case and in the 
center of all, the music box. It was often used 
during those early days. "Rose-Marie, I Love You" 
sounded sad when I was sad and happy when I 
was happy. I used the bath powder constantly. The 
putting on of the lovely scented powder made me 
feel like a movie star - until I looked in the mirror. 

My high school years were filled with studies, peer 
pressure, new friends and my constant striving for 
pianistic perfection. The most important part was 
my first love. My entire existence took on a new 
aura. Everything I did and everything that hap- 
pened to me seemed to have a different dimension. 


The world was more beautiful than I had ever 
imagined. The sound of "Rose-Marie, I Love You" 
became more romantic. I thought that I was quite 
sophisticated in my appraisal of classical romantic 
novels and I played Chopin with enhanced feeling. 
Ah! The wonderful naive assurance of youth! 

Graduation from high school brought with it feel- 
ings of pride, nostalgia and eager anticipation of 
college. The more serious study and commitments 
of college life kept me away from home a great 
deal. Sometime, during that busy existence, I off- 
handedly wound the music box too tightly and it 
stopped playing. I felt sad about it but other things 
demanded my attention more. My true love entered 
my life, and soon we were married. Now, I thought, 
I have indeed come into full bloom! I had found my 
soul-mate and we were free to explore each other, a 
world of ideas, and the world around us. 

My partner was a law student. While we were 
waiting for him to pass the bar, we lived in one 
room. It was cozy and pleasant but not very large. 
In a few months we discovered that we were going 
to have a baby. We were filled with joyous anticipa- 
tion and awed by a new sense of responsibility. 

Being pregnant triggered a great spurt of domestic- 
ity in me. Our quarters were small and I decided 
that we did not have to be burdened by the many 
old belongings which crowded our closet and 
drawers. One Saturday we agreed to take the 
situation in hand. We found a large carton and 
started filling it with our cast-offs. In the back of a 
drawer I came upon my old musical powder box. It 
was dented, one leg was hopelessly bent and, of 
course it no longer played. I hesitated, but thought 
that this was really no time for sentimentality, and 
threw it into the carton. 

The community in which we lived had a dump on 
the edge of town. I think it was an abandoned 
quarry. The sky was overcast as we put the carton 
in the back of the car and drove off. As we took the 
carton out of the car, a few large raindrops began to 
fall. I held back a bit. My fear of heights was accen- 
tuated now that I had an unborn child to protect. 
My husband pushed the carton along the ground 
and finally tipped its contents over the edge. 

As we turned to leave, I was startled to hear a 
familiar melody; from the unreachable depths of 
the dump came the wistful strains of "Rose- 
Marie, I Love You." 

Elaine Garretson lives in Dallas, Texas. 



Barbara H. Hanson 

Growing up in a small New England village, my 
whole world was very close to home. 1 was 
happy in my world as I was free to explore the 
fields and pastures and to wade in the brook 
which became a river in the spring. The summer 
before I was old enough for school, I knew the 
names of all the wild flowers, where to find the 
best berries, and had discovered great picnic 
places. But when my oldest brother went off to 
war I began to understand there was a whole 
other "outside" world - interesting but not as 
happy as mine. 

With no radio or TV, most of what I heard was 
from my father who read parts of the newspaper 
aloud to Mother. He was a "Minute Man" during 
the war. This meant he spoke for a minute at the 
gatherings on the village green, - a few encour- 
aging words, news from the war, and prayers for 
our boys, our country and for Gen. John J. 
Pershing, commander-in-chief of the American 
forces in France. Everything seemed to depend on 
him! I began imagining faraway places called 
Alsace-Lorraine, the Argonne Forest, Paris, 
France. After the prayer, we ran for the swings 

singing lustily - "Over there, over there" or "Keep 
the homefires burning." Stories I overheard made 
me imagine my brother was quite a hero and I 
was bursting with pride. 

Such excitement when he arrived home from 
France! He gave us his helmet, gas mask, canteen 
and parts of his uniform. The boys enjoyed 
wearing the helmet and gas mask, pretending to 
be soldiers. We all practiced winding the puttees 
on our legs. It was tricky and I wondered how 
they had time with guns shooting all around. We 
learned our big brother didn't like to talk about 
the war and we didn't dare question him but I 
decided we owed everything to General John J. 
Pershing. He "led our army to victory" and 
brought my brother safely home. 

In our little village, we never expected to see 
famous people, so imagine my surprise when my 
father said that Gen. Pershing was coming to our 
town. I was so excited when he said we could all 
meet him! I could hardly contain myself. Being 
extremely shy, I worried about greeting him. 
What would happen? How was I to behave? My 
mother said, "A smile is a nice greeting." Gen. 
Pershing was so handsome and so awesome, I 
forgot even to smile. He leaned over and kissed 
me on the cheek. Then, patting my head, said "I 
wish I had a little girl like you." No words came 
to me at all. I was in a daze. Did he think I 
didn't like him? Later my father told me that this 
wonderful hero of mine had lost his three young 
daughters in a terrible fire at the Presidio, an 
army base where they lived. 

From that day on, I dreamed of being his little 
girl and of how I'd try to make up for his loss 
and be a "ray of sunshine in his life." All sorts of 
ideas raced through my head as I dreamed of a 
wonderful, exciting life in that world I knew 
nothing about. 

My friend and I did a lot of day dreaming. When 
we had learned to read, we all read a series of 
books called The Little Colonel. We dreamed of 
having our own ponies and made up adventures 
as we rode about in our imaginary pony cart. But 
my very own secret dream was to be a daughter 
to Gen. John J. Pershing! 

Barbara Hanson is a psychologist who lives in New Harbor, 
Maine. She has been a remedial learning specialist and a high 
school guidance counselor. 




Edith Perlmutter 

No woman had ever played at this moderately- 
high-stake poker table. And here 1 am, the only 
woman, playing with six male colleagues from 
Loyola University. That is not in keeping with 
tradition at the annual faculty barbecue bash. 

After playing only fifteen minutes I lose the whole 
five dollars I invested in the game. I wonder, "Am 
I losing my skill? That very rarely happens when I 
play a social game with friends. Maybe I am too 

The Dean of Liberal Arts looks down at me as I 
lose the last of my chips and remarks, "Edith, we 
would all understand if you wished to leave now. 
This game gets a little rough for a woman." Some 
of the men nod in agreement. 

I look at up the six foot, eight-inch-tall Dean 
sitting next to me. I am angry. I feel offended. 
But I will not be intimidated. "Don't worry, 
Dean," I reply. "I have another five dollars to lose. 
I'm just getting accustomed to you gentlemen." 

As I invest my second five dollars I think, "How 
shall I handle this? I can't let Father Killeen down. 
I must hold up my end as a woman. It was Father 

Killeen (the Chairman of our Economics Depart- 
ment) who told me yesterday he would introduce 
me to this table reserved for me. He had faith in 
me, I suppose, because I taught statistics." 

I'm beginning to enjoy the flushes I get, the bluff 
and sandbag that worked. The solemnity of the 
game is another matter. Could it be that I have 
put a pall on the game? Was it a mistake to play at 
this table? Dr. Savino from the language depart- 
ment appears so uncomfortable and avoids look- 
ing at me. But I better stop wondering and con- 
tinue concentrating. 

After about two more hours I hear scuffling 
behind me but keep my eyes glued on the cards. 
Suddenly I hear loud applause. I look around. 
Behind me stand about a dozen faculty members. 
They are looking at the very high pile of chips at 
my side. They are looking at the very low pile of 
chips at the sides of the six male poker players. 

Father Killeen, standing behind me, laughs. "Your 
chips look like more than sixty dollars." 

I do enjoy winning. Even more, I enjoy the 
thought that perhaps I broke a hallowed tradition 
at Loyola University. 



I vowed I wouldn't have an only child. I suc- 
ceeded in having two "only" children. My daugh- 
ter Janie married and left home when her half 
sister Esther was four months old. 

Janie was angry with me for leaving her father. 
Esther was angry with me for not leaving her 

I thought it wise to praise Esther for being very 
intelligent and very pretty — which she was. She 
criticized me for praising her so much. It con- 
vinced her she was not intelligent or pretty. 

I thought sending Esther to the Unitarian Sunday 
School and then allowing her to choose a religion 
or no religion was the most sensible and demo- 
cratic thing to do. When grown up, Esther com- 
plained because we didn't raise her in the He- 
brew tradition. 

I taught my children to be on the side of the 
oppressed, the poor, the minorities. I meant we 
should organize to do away with oppression, 
poverty and racism. I didn't mean my grand- 
daughter Frances should live in poverty as if she 
were in the Third World. I didn't mean Janie 
should rescue a homeless man by herself. 

I consider myself a radical Marxist economist. I 
ended up teaching bourgeois economics. 

I was an atheist teaching in a Catholic University. 

When I was young — and it mattered most— I was 
convinced I was unattractive to the opposite sex. 
When I was forty — and it mattered less — I discov- 
ered I was considered "cute" and attractive to the 
opposite sex. 

The two men I married were not suitable hus- 
bands for me. The significant others I didn't 
marry would have been wonderful husbands. 

My mother had abortions to make sure I'd be an 
only child. Only in that way they felt they could 
afford to send me to college. My two grand- 
daughters believe in the right to choose but are 
personally against abortions even if they can't 
afford many children. 

When I was very young I was sure we were all 
born good. I believed it was a greedy society that 
created selfish, greedy people, and a humane 
society would prevent selfishness and greed. 
When I became older, I was sure we were all 
born with a tabula rasa (a clean slate). I believed 

a humane society would inevitably bring about 
humane individuals. Now I am sure if we don't 
attain humane and rational societies, we will all 
be destroyed. 

Edith Perlmuttcr has a Ph.D. in economics 



Advice to a Foolish Virgin 

Bess Shapiro 

I'm deeply in love with Bill. I'm also deeply in 
lust with Bill. I have just reached my twentieth 
birthday. My heart is ready, and my body is 
clamoring for that mysterious consummation that 
will bind us together forever. 

But where will that magic take place? 

I share a bedroom with Grandma. I complain to 
her, after assuring her that she's the dearest 
roommate a girl could have. 

"Dammit, Grandma! 1 don't have any privacy. 
What if I want to make a baby with Bill?" 

Grandma gives me a sly smile. "Foolish little girl! 
Just say to me, 'Grandma, take a walk.' How long 
does it take to make a baby? Five minutes." 

Five Minutes? 

The telegram reads: 

"Iowa awaits. Stop. I await you. Stop. Hurry. 
Stop. Love. No Stop." 

The telegram is from Massachusetts, where my 
darling husband is a doctor at a boys' camp, 
during his vacation from his internship. It's in 
code, but I can read it. Decoded, it says, 

"Hurrah! I've got the job at Mt. Pleasant State 
Hospital and I'll even get paid. Now we can start 
that family we've been talking about." 

And I tell myself, 

"Now I can take a leave of absence from my career 
as teacher, for my new career as mother." 

I've got the train schedules memorized. I have 
time to give my Grandma a good kiss, to run over 
to the store and give my parents a good kiss, and 
fly up the stairs of the El. The El never took this 
long, nor moved so slowly. I could walk to Grand 
Central in less time. 

I can't sit sedately on the train to Massachusetts. I 
stride the aisles, helping the train to get there 
faster. After endless hours, the conductor calls out 
"Pittsfield." I'm puzzled to see so many people 
leave the train with me, until I remember that 
Pittsfield is the station for the Tanglewood Music 
Festival. I'm met by Zif and the camp chauffeur 
and hurried off to the small house of the two 
elderly sisters whose only paying guest I'll be for 
the next week. 

Was it in that tiny room with the huge roses on the 
wallpaper, on the high bed with ornate brass head 
and foot, the bees thrumming as they flirted with 
the buckwheat in the little garden beside my 
window? Was it to that accompaniment that we 
started our baby? 

Was it on the shore of Lake Mah-Kee-Nac, the 
ominous dark water lit only by two moons - the 
round one in the clouded sky and its broken 
reflection in the moving waves. We're the only 
creatures in this deep quiet, the only sound the 
shoosh, shoosh of the water lapping the pebbly 
beach. Was it here that we started our baby? 

Was it in that small wood of slender trees at the 
edge of Tanglewood, where we would hear the 
music of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, that we 
started our baby? 

I don't know with certainty which of those sweet 
encounters started that long longed-for baby. 

I do know with certainty that Grandma was 
wrong. To make a baby takes more than five 

Bess Shapiro was the Director of the Demonstration Nursery 
School for the Board of Education of New York City. 




Matt Barash 

I am writing this on March 21 st , 1990. Just three 
weeks ago I answered the telephone. 


"Hi, Papa" says my granddaughter Robin. "Hi, 

I have interesting news to tell you. Ashley came 
home with a certificate given to her by the princi- 
pal in the auditorium today. She was called up on 
the platform before the entire school and given 
this citation for being 'the best listener.'" 

Ashley is our six-year-old great-granddaughter. 
She is in the first grade. 

"That's great!" we both exclaim. 

For days I reminisce on the problem of being a 
listener. I have been a "listener" all my life and I 
wonder if some of my experiences will be the lot 
of Ashley. I can visualize my mother as she 
speaks to me in her soft-spoken way. 

"Son, it is important to listen when people speak. 
It is rude to interrupt anyone who is speaking." 

I hear this many times. I am impressed. I have 
been taught social proprieties constantly by my 
mother and by my sisters. I am the youngest 
member of our family. I welcome their teachings. 

"Put your knife and fork upon your plate." 

"Hold the chair for your date at meals." 

"Always assist others in removing or putting on 
their coat or jacket." 

"Walk on the curbside when in the company of a 
female companion." 

"Give your seat to older persons and to females." 

I accept these bits of social grace because I recog- 
nize that I am not a handsome person. Perhaps by 
being polite, attentive and up on proprieties I will 
make up for my lack of good looks. 

When in a conversation one to one I do not have 
difficulty. But when there is a group of three or 
more I am often shut out, all because I adhere to 
my inner self that tells me not to interfere when 
another is speaking and to be attentive. Be a good 

listener. As a consequence I am often thought of 
as being more intelligent than I am. People say: 

"He listens and absorbs. He must be smart." But 
between us I know I am not that bright. 

Now I wonder if the certificate Ashley received 
will have the same influence on her as my 
mother's admonishments had on me. I hope not. 
Ashley — speak up! Listen some, but get your two 
cents' worth in! 

Matt Barash witnessed the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. 
At age 87, he is still happily employed in Los Angeles as a 




Sonja Weil 

Grandmother stands on the back porch, floral apron wrapped 
around her body, looking and smelling like a plump loaf of 
freshly baked bread. 

"Come, child, and look at the rose garden. See that one, there, 
with the deep red petals, or this one, here, with the soft pink of a 
baby's cheek. See the purple-rose one — that's my favorite — like 
the passions of a lady not yet old." 

We saw the rose garden wrecked. Later, when all that time had 
passed, the home and garden abandoned by people on the run to 
save their necks and souls. 

We look at this old once elegant home, first built as the home of 
my grandparents, taken as Nazi headquarters, became a nursery 
school, and now a clinic for children with emotional problems. 

My grandmother's voice continues: "My dear, you see there in 
the yard a pile of trash and rusty bedsprings where the garden 
used to be? You missed it all, the care and tenderness of roses, 
deep rose and red, all full of life, while we choked and struggled 
to keep our dignity to the last, to the end." 

"Those who called themselves human laughed, took our wedding 
bands, gold teeth, and rose gardens. They took all our love and 
truth arid family and lives, so we could leave behind no bodies or 
stories for you to remember us and mourn us, only piles of bones 
tossed in giant pits filled with broken lives and screaming voices 
of those not quite dead, or choked on air still in lungs and hearts 
all red and rose and pumping still." 

"Quietly and softly, before the air stops or the roses wither, I call 
you, my dear, to tell you stories of life and family and death and 
war and rose gardens." 

(Sonja never knew her grandmother. Her parents left Czechoslovakia in 1939. 
Fifty years later Sonja and her parents made a first return visit to what had been 
the family home, evoking this piece, written in a University of Chicago writing 
class taught by Molly Daniels.) 



Sherry Shapiro 

I took care of my parents for twenty years. They said I gots to make something of my life. After they 
died I seen my life go down the drain. I was sleeping on the streets and eating best I could. I didn't 
have shoes or decent clothes. There was no one to turn to but God. 

When I first walked through the door at Sister House, I was hard to be with. You couldn't tell me what 
to do. I've been here a year now. I work with the food pantry, I cook three times a week, I teach the 
girls how to cook and I take them to the welfare office. There are fifteen women here, each with differ- 
ent problems. I try to sit down and talk to them. I tell them,"There's not nothing you're telling me 
about I don't know. I was raped when I was five, twelve and sixteen. I've been an alcoholic since I was 
nine, been on the wagon for nine years. I ran away from home and school when I was twelve. I was in 
prison for a year and, when I was twenty-one, I had to move back home cause I couldn't take care of 
me and my two babies. I've done it all. I used to pop pills like they was chewing gum and I'd get so 
drunk until I couldn't see. I'm surprised myself that I didn't die." 

Now I'm doing something with my life. As sure as there's a God, this girl's gonna make it. I'm gonna 
get this GED if it kills me. I'm gonna be a social worker so I can help other women. 



The two most important things in life were having children and then having them leave. I 
think of life as in decades and my fifties were a period of tremendous growth for me. My 
husband was involved in business, my children were away at school and I became 
politically active. I had been involved way back with the Spanish Civil War. So I've been a 
radical and now a liberal for a long time. In my fifties, I traveled around the country as a 
national chairperson of one organization and was appointed by the governor to be on a state 
committee. For me the empty nest was liberation. 

When my husband retired I was terrified. I didn't want to give up my activities, but I did. 
Everything became dissipated because we took long trips and it still continues. So I squeeze 
in a little bit here and there. And, I've become a grandmother, which is a totally, incredibly, 
wonderful experience. At sixty-eight and seventy-four we are late grandparents. Our oldest 
is three and a half. We have three and another one is coming. This is a good time for me to 
be a grandmother. I would have resented it terribly if it had happened earlier, when I was 









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The only thing that really matters to me is my art. For me it is more important to make art than to sell 
it, although I do want it to get out into the world and be responded to. I am absolutely sure of this 
although becoming an artist began in the most tenuous way. In kindergarten, the best moments were 
when they passed out the oatmeal paper and crayons. I assumed it was everybody's best moment. 
Drawing became a part of my life so I never took it seriously, it was just fun. My parents gave me 
drawing classes, but I gave them up in high school. When I finished college I went to work. Work 
was work, a place to make money. I knew the only career that existed was marriage. In the sixties, I 
began a fifties-type marriage and had two children. 

In my mid-thirties, fearful, shy, and easily intimidated, I went back to art school. My husband tried 
every trick in the book to stop me from going for an MFA. That made me very determined and I paid 
for my tuition with my savings. I worked so hard that at the end of the first year I was able to enter a 
show. I have since received a fellowship from the SAIC, a Polaroid grant and an NEA grant. I have 
been in thirty group shows and five one-woman shows. The power play in our household has waxed 
and waned and waxed and waned over the years. My art helps to keep me distanced and indepen- 



Have you ever read Women Who Love Too Much? I come right out of seventeen pages. As a young 
film maker, I was always trying to make the industry include women and minorities. I didn't get 
very far, but I did gain the reputation of being a cause oriented kook. So, when my husband and I 
decided that I should get off my duff and do an anti-nuclear film, word got out and the phones 
started ringing. It was a miracle in the making. It took three and a half years and the budget would 
have been over one million dollars had everyone been paid. But people started to flock around an 
issue whose time had come. It's not everyday you get a call from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra 
offering everybody for freebies. 

I didn't marry until very late and then, just before my fortieth birthday, here was this little 
munchkin. My husband and I home school our son. It's a huge responsibility. There are some 
areas where there is no one in the ten year old range that is touching on what he is doing and that 
is the stuff of value. In other areas he is so far behind I get anxiety attacks. He doesn't know how to 
write. "When I need it I'll let you know, mother" he tells me. The home guru says, "Let it go, don't 
force it." What you get if you don't go crazy, is a child who is motivated because learning is inter- 
esting and fun. Our goal is to give him the values that will make a global citizen. 



When I was eleven the Germans were in my country. A peasant woman came to our town and had 
some food that was forbidden. She had on long skirts and, in the folds, she had butter and cheeses. 
When the German policeman caught her she lamented and people gathered around. There was 
confusion because nobody spoke German. I said, "I can do it." I don't remember what the woman said 
to me, but I remember, very distinctly, that I thought I had to lie, otherwise she would be arrested. The 
German policeman let the woman go and the crowd took her. 

I told this story to my uncle and he asked, "How much did she pay you?" I said, "No, I did it for Bono 
Publico." He put a hand on my shoulder and said, "She's going to be a good attorney." 

Before we came to America, I had scarlet fever, whooping cough and measles, one after the other. 
There was no medicine and, when I got back to school, I couldn't see the blackboard anymore. When I 
married I discovered I couldn't have children. If I'd had a child, I'd have given my whole life to that 

In 1970, when I was forty, I found that I was legally blind. Until then I was trying to hide my handi- 
cap. In 1976, having obtainsd a scholarship under the new law, I was the first blind person to graduate 
from a state school. I am now a law school graduate. I wanted to be a lawyer since I was eleven. I 
wanted to do it in memory of my uncle who didn't survive Auschwitz. 



I did it because I was pissed off. You have to know my situation. My dad had been remarried for six 
years and my mom had just gotten married and I was moving from the city to the suburbs, which 
was a totally new thing. I never had a brother and a sister and suddenly I had both. I changed 
schools. I didn't have any control. I learned in the hospital that one of the angriest things you can do 
is trying to commit suicide. 

Being in the hospital was one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me. I mean, you're not 
supposed to say this, but it's the truth. It was awful to be there, kind of, everyone hates it, but you 
love it at the same time. I learned things people never learn in their entire lives. I like me. It was a 
hard four months, but I know stuff that will equip me for the rest of my life. 

In the hospital they taught me how to stand up to my parents and to, like, expect things out of me, 
instead of having my parents expect things out of me. I mean, I know I'm an only child but I'm four- 
teen and both my parents are really overprotective. They needed help also. Part of it is really talking 
to your parents. I mean, everybody talks to their parents, but not like seriously. Sometimes you just 
have to tell your parents, "I can't do that, that's not me." 



I had been taught not to see color. I marched in the sixties for equal rights, believing that everyone 
should have their own little space and go on about their business. The birth of my son was the 
turning point in my life. 

Towards the end of my pregnancy there were complications. My doctor, who knew me as a white, 
Jewish woman, met my black husband for the first time, when I was hospitalized. "Why the hell 
didn't you tell me?" he said; and from that point on, he treated me as though I had a disease. The 
doctor said, "It's bad enough what the kid is, you're trying my patience," and began a C-section 
without giving me any anesthetic. My son was born white as the Pillsbury dough boy. "Ah ha," said 
the doctor, "White!" This doctor was a WASP, his associate was an oriental. To his mind, he wasn't a 
bigot, I had just broken the rules. Two days later a black nurse wheeled my baby into the room and 
slammed the crib into the wall. I had broken her rules, too. 



When my youngest son was eleven, he came home for lunch, opened the refrigerator, looked 
around and said, "There is no ham, there is no salami, what else don't you have?" There are many 
things I don't have and just a few things I do have. First, I have my husband's love. He is the under- 
pinning of my life. He is decent to the core. Secondly, I have my two boys who have connected me 
to the fabric of society. Through their school and outside activities I have become involved socially 
and politically. Because of them I cannot retreat into myself. Thirdly, I have a few good friends, two 
sisters and a brother who care for me enough to come from out of town to help me celebrate my 
fiftieth birthday. 

I coped with being different when I was ten and came to America from Germany. Cars were confis- 
cated during the war and I was not used to them. My reintroduction to cars was through under- 
ground tunnels and traffic jams. Now I am different because I do not drive. This has necessitated 
our living in the city and my children's self-sufficiency. It has also kept the pace of my life to a walk 
or a bus ride. The external pressures to be more than a wife and mother have affected me no more 
than car pooling. I ascribe to neither. I manage to do pretty much what I want in a quiet way. Pas- 
sive is the kind of life I want to lead. 


I gave one of my kidneys to my sister just before I 
turned thirty. Having gone through the whole 
medical experience with her, I became incredibly 
paranoid that I would have to go on a dialysis 
machine. The fact was, I had given my sister a 

piece of my body and gone through some pretty 
major physical trauma. Yet, I had to just give it to 
her. I couldn't control what kind of job she took, 

what kind of boyfriend she had or what she did 

with her life. I was supposed to say to her, "You 
have my kidney, it's yours. I don't have any say 
over it. Do what you need to do with your life." I 

certainly don't have mastery over unconditional 
love and unconditional giving, but for the last four 

years I've been working on it. 


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I am French. I met my husband, who is from Philadelphia, while he was visiting Paris. When I 
arrived here in 1967, at the age of twenty-four, I found people very provincial. No one ever asked 
about me because they didn't know what to ask. Conversations would never go beyond the 
weather, films or cooking. I couldn't share basic experiences and I was very lonely. One day I 
realized I wasn't laughing anymore. Things I'd find funny or curious others wouldn't. Then a 
friend from Paris visited and we laughed all day. We would react the same way to something. The 
two of us went to a French film with a French Canadian. When we discussed the picture after- 
wards, we agreed that my Parisian friend and I had seen the same film. From what the French 
Canadian talked about, she had been at another film, even though she sat next to us. 

Although I'm more comfortable in America now, because at least I know when something is funny 
or ethnic, I will always be a foreigner here. My children and I visit my family in France at least 
every eight months. After three days it is almost as though I've never left. But at times I'm lonely 
in Europe, too, because I've experienced more and have a broader view than those who haven't 
lived both places. Our circle of friends are all transplanted Europeans. They have become our 




Bonnie Schranz 

She wrote out the multi-colored postcard, 

Penned the line, "Wish you were here," 

Addressed it to a place remote 

From where she stood in the Aegean sun 

Contemplating azure skies 

Reflecting both her eyes and water. 

She had never ever known such water. 

No one would believe the color on the postcard. 

The midwest on clear days had such skies, 

But never a sea such as she found here, 

Or whole days spent suspended in the sun. 

For that she had surely found a place remote. 

Like so, her body and her spirit, too, remote 
As if asleep, or as if not breathing, under water. 
Her skin changed, too, darkened by the sun. 
Identified only by a name signed on a postcard, 
Not knowing how to be, but only to be here, 
Her feet on foreign soil, her vision of the skies. 

She wondered at the lack of clouds in skies, 
Dreamed other daydreams quite remote, 
And was unsure just what had brought her here 
To give her days to winds and water 
That can't be captured on a postcard, 
Sharing conversations with the sun. 

She feared a touch of sudden madness; like the sun 

She sometimes crept too far into the skies. 

She wondered if she'd even send that postcard 

(its destination too far, remote). 

With rapid motion, threw it toward the water, 

Scorned its useless "Wish you were here." 

Broke with the past in that one action, here 

Vowed her one allegiance to the sun, 

Claimed as soulmates colored fishes in the water, 

Her thoughts set free, lofting to the skies, 

Vowed to spend her life in lands remote. 

But then her gaze was fastened to the postcard. 

Not submerged, but here, the scene of azure skies 
And burning sun (the daydreams now remote). 
And in the water, teardrops on a postcard. 


Margaret S. B. White 

"Doesn't it sound like the telephone's about to ring?" 

Like the air just before it rains, we know 
the storm is coming before it arrives; 
we can smell it, we can feel the pressure change 
around us as our bodies move through space, 
we can see invisible lightning start the dance 
on a far horizon. 

There is a difference in the air, some charge, 
a prescience, as with a message telegraphed 
from London to New York or a radio broadcast 
from high atop the Hotel Allerton to the parlor 
or living room; from sender to receiver it bridges 
that vast gap of ocean, of air, and finally, 
magically, arrives, somehow losing nothing 
in translation. 

All those words floating around in space, in time, 
all the messages rushing from place to place and 
mind to mind: why does the radio never suddenly 
say Dear John stop will arrive LaGuardia 10:30 a.m. 
stop please arrange for rental car stop; or the 
telegraph key leap suddenly into melody with songs 
from the Big Band era? 

And why does my ear faintly, suddenly, catch 
the sound of some far conversation or the memory 
of an old flame idly thinking of me? 

Like the air before it rains, like these messages 
the wind brings, like love right before it appears, 
Yes: It sounds like the telephone is just about 
to ring. 



Dear Dr. Hughes, 

Your statement of Lovelock's views (TCW Sp/ 
Su'90) Reweaving the Web of Life seems to me 
informative and accurate. As Lawrence Joseph so 
well points out in his interesting new book Gaia: 
The Growth of an Idea (St. Martin's Press, 1990, 
NY) there are at least two gaias: the scientific and 
the popular. Although I have no desire to stifle 
interest in the latter, so well described in your 
piece, I sincerely believe the fundamental gaian 
notion is fully consonant with ordinary science. 
My definition of the gaia idea is enclosed here 
(see attached); it differs from Lovelock's in that to 
me "Gaia" can never be a single organism since 
no single organism can both produce and cycle its 
own carbon, nitrogen and other elemental needs. 
(Food, for any given organism, can never be 
waste for it: Gaia's garbage never goes out, it 
only goes around.) Rather, to me, gaia is intrinsi- 
cally and irreducibly a complex system. Vicky 
Mellor and no doubt many of her colleagues have 
gleaned the Gaia hypothesis from the popular 
media rather than from the primary scientific 
literature. We hope that our forthcoming chapter 
(Lynn Margulis and Gregory Hinkle, Biota and 
Gaia: 150 years of support for Environmental Sci- 
ences) in the book edited by Stephen Schneider 
(The Science of Gaia, MIT Press, 1991) will help 
reach scientists like Mellor and Jon Mendelson so 
that their opinions will be influenced by the 
scientific work itself rather than loose statements 
about it. 

Furthermore, as historians and philosophers are 
quick to note, scientists tend to be ignorant of 
cultural influences on the scientific enterprise. 
Lovelock fully appreciates our difficulty in 
aggressing against a personified planet: when the 
Earth is portrayed by the most serious and digni- 
fied scientists as simply a passive pile of rocks 
obeying blind mechanical forces, exploitation of 
our planet becomes trivially easy. Although I 
prefer to avoid the goddess metaphor I admit that 
Lovelock has succeeded in bringing attention to 
his serious scientific ideas far more effectively 
since he began using it. 

Yet both Lovelock and I concur that humans have 
no special role in the gaian modulation system. 
Planetary life is over 350 million years old and 
planetary regulation, as directly inferable from 


the fossil record, has been going on for at least 
350 million years. The appearance of the weedy 
mammalian species Homo sapiens was barely 3.5 
million years ago and the cave-painting, fire- 
using human culture which connects the dubi- 
ously sapiens sapiens group (the subspecies to 
which belong all of us live upright apes) is only 
about 0.03 million (30,000) years old. Obviously, 
like the lover in the song, Gaia "got along with- 
out us very well" and she is likely to get along 
very well for at least another 300 million years 
after our extinction. The question is simply not 
the persistence of all of life on the planet, because 
life is tough. The question is the nature of that life 
for thousands of millions of humans and our co- 
evolved companions: the cockroaches, agaric 
mushrooms, raccoons, Durham wheat, brewer's 
yeast, AIDS viruses, pubic lice and the rest. The 
precise details of the population growth and 
extinction curves for these planetary inhabitants 
have more than academic interest for us. Articles 
like yours can only help purge the human world 
of the horrible surviving triplet: poverty, igno- 
rance and birth of unwanted babies. 

Lynn Margulis 

Distinguished University Professor 

University of Massachusetts 







Over 30 million types of 

live beings, descendants from 

common ancestors 

members of five kingdoms 

produce and remove gases, 

ions and organic compounds. 

Their interacting activities 

lead to modulation of 

Earth's temperature, acidity, 

and atmospheric composition. 




m _, 

TO x 

m m 


m |> 


X m 


— « 



Dear Editor: 

I read with interest Bethe Hagen's "GaiaSpeak." 
While I share her love for books and etymologies, 
as a translator of Sanskrit texts I could not quite 
agree with her explanation of the Sanskrit root vrt 
nor, in fact, with her philosophical elaborations. 

To begin with, I am not sure what grounds there 
are for her comment that vrt "is nothing less than 
a danger sign in Sanskrit." Its basic meaning is 
"to exist, be, remain." This in itself could hardly 
be considered negative. 

It is true, however, that the root vrt is close to 
(and perhaps a historical derivation of) another 
root that, broadly speaking, has a more negative 
significance, namely vr meaning "to cover, con- 
ceal, restrain, envelop." To confuse matters 
further, in its second declensional form the same 
root vr has the more positive meaning of "to 
choose, ask, wish for." This of course has to do 
with the fact that many primitive verbal roots are 
ambivalent — a fact long ago noted by Sigmund 

I found Hagen's speculations on the idea of "a 
language universe in which nouns and verbs do 
not exist" somewhat obscure. Upon careful 
reflection it should become evident that a lan- 
guage without both nouns and verbs can have no 
possible communicative value. A language 
without subject, object, and predicate is a non- 
language. While the Sanskrit sages of yore 
clearly favored a state of being — or Being — in 
which language is transcended, they were rather 
eloquent in their use of nouns, verbs, adjectives, 
and a host of other linguistic devices. Even their 
occasional recommendation of silence (in San- 
skrit mauna ) as the best policy in metaphysical 
matters is based on the use of langauge. 

So — while the vrttis or "movements" of the 
mind and the tongue are to be curbed through 
spiritual discipline ( yoga ) so that Being itself may 
shine forth, the Sanskrit sages, like the mystics of 
other cultures and eras, were realists enough not 
to dismiss language. They, like modern thinkers, 
were frequently even guilty of "thingifying" the 
realities depicted by language. I feel the best the 
human race can hope to accomplish (in the very 
long run) is to develop a sensitivity to the fact 
that languages are inherently defective mirrors of 

reality and to learn to use them with proper care. 
As the Swiss cultural philosopher Jean Gebser 
emphasized in his pioneering work The Ever- 
Present Origin, we must overcome the "dualistic 
compulsion" of our languages. Hagen's efforts to 
reconstruct a primordial "GaiaSpeak" are intrigu- 
ing, and I wonder whether she has come across 
Gebser's work, which contains a very insightful 
treatment of Indo-European word-roots and root- 
sounds from the point of view of evolutionary 
"structures of consciousness?" 

Georg Feuerstein 
Lower Lake, CA 

Bethe Responds: 

First, let me express my pleasure "beyond 
words"(!) at having received the comments of 
Professor Feuerstein. The GaiaSpeak research is 
dear to my heart, and I appreciate the gentleness 
with which he was able to point out weaknesses 
in my analysis. 

My approach to etymologies has always been 
more "ethnographic" than linguistic (in the more 
traditional sense). Over the years, I have talked 
with dozens of scholars of language and have 
discovered enormous discrepancies of opinion as 
to what constitutes "valid linguistics." It is heart- 
ening to know that the "primitive ambivalence of 
verbal roots" in Indo-European languages is a 
widely-accepted principle. 

I first learned about the Sanskrit root vrt ("a 
shimmering, unevolutive eventfulness") from 
Robert Lawlor, an architect/geometer who writes 
on time, space, color and harmony, and "things." 
What most intrigued me were his speculations 
about vrt as the "vibrational root of being." I am 
a violinist and have spent much of my life trying 
to understand sound (i.e., vibration) as a creative 
force. I have also struggled with the Judeo- 
Christian creation stories. For example, why is it 
that "In the Beginning was the Word. And the 
Word was with God. And the Word was God?" 
Maybe that "Word" was sound. Lawlor's work 
provided me the most tentative of cords to begin 
to tie science and mythology in a creative am- 
bivalence within my mind/heart. I did not intend 



to imply that vrt is ne gative when I referred to it 
as "nothing less than a danger sign in San- 
skrit" — but rather wanted to underscore the 
profound philosophy to be found in the Yoga 
Sutras of Patanjali. I believe their warning about 
"restraining the use of the vrtti" is evidence that 
those ancient speakers were already extremely 
sensitive to the fact that language can be a 
"defective mirror." (I have written somewhat 
more extensively about this with William Becker 
in "A Model for Gaia," a chapter in Conference 
Proceedings: Is the Earth a Living Organism?) 

Having just finished my second reading of Martin 
Bernal's Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of 
Classical Civilization and, concomitantly, Clifford 
Geertz's Works and Lives (of anthropologists), it is 
more difficult than ever for me to state "facts" 
about other cultures and their languages. Never- 
theless, I still believe that languages exist without 
both nouns and verbs. The classic case in anthro- 
pology is the language of the Hopi. I can remem- 
ber wondering, as a young girl in my first anthro- 
pology class, how on earth this could be possible. 
How could there be no difference between past, 
present, and future; no "was," "is," or "will be?" 
What would life be like in a culture in which 
"corn" didn't "grow" but in which "cornflow?" I 
knew (I think) what this meant, but I got trapped 
in language every time I tried to say it. It was 
this paradox that convinced me to become an 

I greatly value Professor Feuerstein's tugs back to 
reality and will keep him close as I wander 
through the labyrinths of repetitive cycles, evolu- 
tionary spirals, and ancient futures that languages 
mirror. I have realized that GaiaSpeak is as much 
my hope that speech can again be a sacred cre- 
ation song — as it is my scientific investigation of 
the nature of language. 

Bethe Hagens 

Governors State University 

Dear Editor: 

I would like to respond to Bethe Hagen's article 
"GaiaSpeak" (Spring/Summer 1990) and Georg 
Feuerstein's comments regarding this piece. 

The notion of a primordial language or 
"GaiaSpeak" is an intriguing idea, worthy of 
serious study. An ecofeminist philosophy cannot 
take language for granted. A feminist critique of 
language has revealed much of the dark side of 
language: how language is implicated in the 
construction of gender-roles, in the maintaining 
of patterns of social control, and the way lan- 
guage defines and limits reality along patriar- 
chal lines. The notion of "GaiaSpeak," i.e., the 
original language that existed prior to the rise of 
the now dominant patriarchal social systems, 
may reveal a truly life-enhancing, life-integrating 
communication system. 

An ecological perspective on the origins of hu- 
man language may reveal a constellation of 
important insights. However, modern linguists 
are still operating under the constraints imposed 
by the all-male French Linguistic Academy, who 
very early ruled "out-of-bounds" investigations 
into the evolutionary and ecological origins of 
language. In any case, what we can reliably say 
about the origins of language are twofold: First, 
that human language evolved and matured under 
ecological conditions radically different from 
today. Second, language is a bio-evolutionary 
structure that is part of our natural heritage. 
Given this human heritage, it has been discovered 
that females have more robust linguistic capabili- 
ties than males: Females begin speaking earlier, 
develop fewer speech dysfunctions, learn new 
languages faster, and speak with more grammati- 
cal correctness throughout life. Something in our 
evolutionary past seems to have made women the 
natural guardians and protectors of language. 

The original main function of human language 
may well have been the expressive extension of 
Gaia Consciousness, and women with their 
special linguistic sensitivities would certainly 
have played a major role in giving voice to the 
lyrics of the earth. There is enough good archeo- 
logical evidence to tentatively ground these 
speculations. Fertility images, earth-mother 
icons, and Venus sculptures abound during the 



paleolithic. The mother goddess as the apex 
symbol, and the evolutionary capacity to symbol- 
ize via language were inextricably intertwined. 

Gaia Consciousness would inevitably charge and 
organize the syntax and semantics of a language 
with certain enduring linguistic structures. Can 
we reconstruct the original grammar of 
GaiaSpeak? We may also ask what residual 
archaic features of GaiaSpeak are latent in mod- 
ern languages? Bethe Hagens' search for struc- 
tural linguistic similarities between Proto-Indo- 
European and Sanskrit and what she calls "the 
more remote 'proto-language'" will certainly 
yield valuable clues in the quest for GaiaSpeak. 
Viewing language from the big picture of human 
evolution, even Proto-Proto-Indo-European must 
be located in the context of Neolithic society. 
And I would argue that by the very structure of 
their subsistence ecologies such cultures had long 
alienated themselves from Gaia Consciousness. 
Neolithic peoples must sever their umbilical tie to 
deep ecological sensitivity. Having given them- 
selves over to "cutting open the mother-breast 
with the plow," Neolithic peoples have forever 
alienated themselves from the possibility of 
speaking forth from the maternal matrix. 

Reconstructuring essential aspects of original 
human language systems must involve complex 
search strategies. My own speculation on human 
language origins has progressed fruitfully by 
focusing upon the total grammar and not merely 
the lexicon of past and present language systems. 
Even if by some miracle we had unearthed a 
dictionary of "GaiaSpeak" we would still not hear 
her voice for it is the grammar that yields the 
"form of life" and holds the key to what the earth 
mother has said to our ancestors. 

Feuerstein's letter requires some comments. By 
invoking the name of Jean Gebser, Feuerstein 
provides us with a possible conceptual scheme or 
ontology needed to reconstruct GaiaSpeak. In the 
Gebserian model, the morphology of an 
intersubjective consciousness is at work, so to 
speak, ahead of language. Global forms of con- 
sciousness constitute the enduring structural 
features of a language. Gebser posits five mor- 
phologies of consciousness: Archaic, Magical, 
Mythical, Mental-Rational, and Integral. 

GaiaSpeak, I maintain, would display the syntax 
and semantics arising out of the Integral mode — 
Integral consciousness being aperspectival, 
egoless, and a-temporal. 

Our Western mode of consciousness is Mental- 
Rational as Gebser describes it. Linguistic science 
as we now know it arises out of the Mental- 
Rational perspective. From that perspective it is 
almost impossible to comprehend language 
systems which function without nouns and verbs, 
yet such systems exist. There are anomalies in 
the field of socio-linguistics (anomolies from a 
Mental-Rational perspective) that confound the 
Western mind. Inuit, for example is a 
polysynthetic, non-nominal, and ergative lan- 
guage. Inuit functions quite well without nouns 
and verbs, and with the object as the subject of 
the sentence! Given the range of human lan- 
guages, the leap to reconstruct GaiaSpeak may 
not be as broad as we think. 

Art Schmaltz 
South Holland, IL 




Dear Editor, 

As an advocate for the philosophy/psychology of 
Gaia, I am so pleased that you chose to highlight 
the concept in your magazine. As the artist and 
creator of "Gaia," the sculpture, I was inspired by 
the realization that the image of Planet Earth 
viewed from space is the modern icon to usher in 
the 21st century. The motivation to replicate and 
propagate this image is the understanding that 
this vision is a powerful subliminal affirmation 
and postulation which aspires to the reality of an 
interconnected, cooperative and equivalent global 
species — humankind. I have first hand experi- 
ence of how powerful is this movement toward a 
new paradigm of human thought. The image of 
Gaia is an idea whose time has come. I, for one, 
hope it catches on. It's not just the best idea 
going, it is the only sane one. 

Thank you for your wonderful Gaia issue. 

Barbara Mann 
Neenah, Wisconsin 

Dear Editor, 

I am delighted and proud that there is such a 
magazine in our human community. It is serious, 
deep, humane, broad, with rich ideas, horizons, 
perspectives. It makes its readers aware of the 
great variety of human worlds, of nuances of 
mentality, of traditions, and beautifully contrib- 
utes to a better understanding of women's life 
around the world. It is so important now when 
still many differences separate people. Moreover, 
your magazine is very attractive, artistically 
designed, beautifully produced. It is pleasant to 
take this magazine in one's hands. You feel that 
you are communicating with something beautiful 
and kind, that you are deepening into a pleasant 
medium of enjoyable, peaceful talk with other 
human beings. I send you my warmest congratu- 
lations and wishes for further success! 

Dr. I. P. Lapin 
Bethesda, Maryland 

Dear Dr. Hughes: 

I'm putting together a book of letters addressed to 
"Dear Boss" from women who have something to 
say to their bosses that they're unable to say in 
person (for whatever reason). Judging from 
conversations with other women and my own 
frustrating experiences in the workplace (with 
bosses of both sexes), I feel sure there are millions 
out there who are mortally tired of having to bite 
their tongues in order to hold onto a job and who 
woula xove a chance to be heard by the world. 

Needless to say, writers' names will not appear in 
print; anonymity and confidentiality are guaran- 
teed. Although real name and address should 
accompany them, "Dear Boss" letters should be 
signed with appropriate descriptive pseudonyms. 

Writers whose letters are used will receive a free 
copy of the book and will be able to purchase 
additional copies at a discount. 


Letters (or queries for additional information) 
should be sent, with name and return address to: 

Rennie Quinn #1303 
2207 Wickersham Lane 
Austin, TX 78741 




Carolyn Heilbrun 

W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1988. 

Review by Lynn Thomas Strauss 

Although Carolyn Heilbrun's book, Writing a 
Woman's Life had many intriguing ideas and brought 
together many strands of feminist literary criticism, I 
came away feeling that Ms. Heilbrun had taken me 
along on a puddle-jumping expedition. It was 
exhilarating and challenging, but more than a little 

Because the book jumped so fast from topic to topic, 
and from example to example, I sought further 
insight into the genre of women's journals and 
autobiographies by reading May Sarton's Journal of a 
Solitude ""along with Heilbrun's work. Sarton's 
accompaniment was sometimes in tune with 
Heilbrun's theories and at other times offered a rich 
counterpoint. Both writers engage the problem 
women face in trying to live a life balanced in love, 
friendship and career. 

Heilbrun begins with the thesis that just as women 
have lived their essential lives in secret, hidden 
behind the demands placed on them as nurturers, so 
have the stories of women's true lives also been 
concealed. She points to a marked difference in tone 
between the biographies and autobiographies of 
successful women and the content of their letters, 
journals and diaries. In the public accountings of 
women's lives, according to Heilbrun, there is an 
emphasis on strength, ambition and pride, whereas it 
is only in the more private writings that the struggle, 
the anger, the isolation is explored. Sarton acknowl- 
edges that Journal of a Solitude was written as a 
corrective for an earlier work, Plant Dreaming Deep, 
which expressed only a part of herself. left out the 
anguish and the rage. 

A critical factor in how women have told the stories 
of their lives is, says Heilbrun, the absence for 
women of a quest plot. The only plots open to 
women, she says, were the conventional marriage 
plot or the erotic plot. Both "women's plots" were 
relegated to the private sphere and did little to 
encourage public achievement, creativity or true self- 

Here Heilbrun jumps to the puddle of autobio- 
graphical poets-pointing to the work of Anne Sexton, 
Adrienne Rich, and Sylvia Plath as illustrative of the 

limited plots into which women have been squeezed. 

Although 1 don't disagree with Heilbrun's sugges- 
tion that women need a greater range of plots within 
which to live and tell their stories, I question whether 
the male quest plot is the only or best alternative. 

In an attempt to reclaim the marriage plot, Heilbrun 
spends a chapter exploring what she calls, "re- 
marriage." Her point is that if marriages are to last, 
then they must be re-negotiated in middle age on a 
realistic rather than a romantic basis. The truth of 
marriage, says Heilbrun, has never been told in 
stories; the fiction of romantic love or doomed 
domesticity has instead held sway. Here Heilbrun 
takes us for a quick, selective romp through the 
marriages of women writers, including Virginia 
Woolf, George Eliot and the "arrangement" of 
Gertrude Stein. She concludes that women writers 
have often struck interesting bargains in marriage. If 
they have married at all, they have chosen a mar- 
riage of friendship and respect, rather than a relation- 
ship of passion. 

There is feminist scholarship to support Heilbrun's 
views on marriage, but I wonder about her commit- 
ment to re-claim marriage as a viable plot. After a 
rather obvious conclusion, that marriage changes 
with middle age, she skillfully jumps over the 
puddle of motherhood to arrive safely at women's 
friendship and aging as deeper pools for reflection. 

In her discussion of friendship, Heilbrun draws an 
interesting distinction between male friendship and 
female friendship when she says that male friend- 
ship affects the public sphere in a way female friend- 
ship does not. Men, Heilbrun says, will stand 
together facing the world, while women will stand 
facing one another. Male friendships affect events 
while female friendships are often primarily consol- 
ing in nature. 

May Sarton in her journal also explores the issue of 
friendship. Her focus is on the balance she must 
strike between her need of friends and her need for 
solitude. She is less concerned about public events 
than about inner essence. Heilbrun seems to be 
caught up in valuing the public or active dimension 
over the inner, spiritual dimension. She claims these 
are questions of power and she is right, but is power 
in the public male world the only power that counts? 

Heilbrun seeks, in this work, to liberate women from 
old limited plots for their lives, yet she fails somehow 
to affirm women's reality as she searches for a new 
vision. She comes at last to a celebration of aging, 

Sarton, May, Journal of a Solitude, W.W. , Norton & Company, New York, 1973. 



but it seems a solution of avoidance. For we are 
young before we are old, and we fall in love and 
sometimes marry. We do bear and raise children. 
Waiting to be liberated by age is sentimental and 
narrow. Must we still suffer and wait for liberation 
to come from outside of ourselves provided by time 

Heilbrun is right, women do need many, many more 
plots to liberate their lives and stories. And, yes, 
friendship and maturity and re-visioning marriage 
are potential resources for a new vision. But I think 
Heilbrun's impatience leads her to agile puddle 
jumping while many of us are still mired in the mud. 
Perhaps it is the Amanda Cross, mystery author, side 
of Heilbrun that insists on neatly fitting all the puzzle 
pieces together. She is used to solving problems 
rather than living through them. 

Yet, I am grateful to Heilbrun for leading me to 
Sarton's journal. For as surely as any questing man, 
women have also been journeying. As Sarton 
exemplifies, women's journeys are often of the soul, 
and in creating our soul, we also participate, as 
Teilhard de Chardin (The Divine Milieu) suggests, "in 
the completing of the world." 

Rev. Strauss, formerly managing editor of The Creative 
Woman, is an ordained Unitarian-Universalist minister. 

i i it i 

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PO Box 176 

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For Immediate Release: Contact: Abigail Norman 

(617) 628-8826 


The Seventh Annual International Women's Day Video Festival invites women from across the 
United States and around the world to submit videotapes that explore the theme: Women and 
Change. This Festival provides women from a variety of cultures the opportunity to exchange 
news, perspectives and insights through videotapes produced by women that reflect personal, 
political, social, historical and community change. 

The International Women's Day Video Festival is produced collaboratively by several Boston-area 
Public Access communities, including Cambridge Community Television, Somerville Community 
Access Television, The Boston Neighborhood Network, and Maiden Community Access, as well as 
many other supporters. 

Women are welcome to submit a variety of videotapes in one or two of the following categories. 
The first category will be a diverse collection of Showcase Tapes that incorporate the theme of 
Women and Change. The second category of entries will include a variety of Interview 
Tapes. In these Interview Tapes, women from all walks of life can make their voices heard, 
during one-minute interview segments, on the theme of Women and Change. Women from all 
cultures and all countries are encouraged to submit tapes in one or both of these categories. 

All tapes are welcome, from novice to professional. Submissions in languages other than English 
are encouraged. When possible, written translations are appreciated. Tapes will be accepted in 
NTSC (North American) 8mm, VHS, S-VHS and 3/4"; PAL and SECAM in 3/4" only. 

The Festival will take place on March 10, 1991 in the form of a five-hour live cablecast in the 
Boston area. The Festival cablecast will include interviews, excerpts from submitted tapes and 
spirited live segments. The Festival is then distributed to Public Access television channels 
throughout the U.S. and is expected to be relayed by satellite to a national audience through Deep 
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The deadline for all entries is January 1, 1991. Submitted tapes should be accompanied by a 
Festival entry form, a return envelope and postage. For entry forms and submission information, 
write: International Women's Day Video Festival, P.O. Box 176, Boston, MA. 02130, U.S.A. or 
call Abigail Norman, Somerville Community Access, at (617) 628-8826. 

Prepared August 25, 1990 




Diana Francis 

President, International Fellowship 
of Reconciliation 

Our world has seen massive changes in the last three 
years or so: momentous events and discoveries and 
a consequent profound shift in perceptions, assump- 
tions and expectations. We have not yet digested all 
that has happened, not understood its meaning for 
us. Many of the ideas which have recently burst 
upon the world at large are ones which we in the 
peace and justice movement have held and pro- 
moted for many years and we find ourselves in 
danger of being taken seriously at last and asked to 
put flesh on the bones of our proposals: to move 
from protest to constructive program — quite a 
challenge! I want to list some of the areas of new 
understanding which make this present time one of 
such importance and opportunity. 

1 ) Ecology - the concept of the Earth and all its 
profusion of life as an entity made up of countless 
wonderful and interdependent components and 
species, of which humankind is but one. This is the 
idea which has come to us the most belatedly and the 
one which is of the most profound significance — of 
immense urgency as well as importance. 

2) Interdependence - the understanding, sharpened 
by the threat both to the eco-system and to our 
system of international banking — that we are eco- 
nomically interdependent, bound to each other by 
self-interest as well as compassion: that economic 
justice is not a matter simply of duty and decency, 
but of necessity. 

3) Democracy - the realization that governments 
and despots are dependent on the acquiescence or 
submission, if not the support, of the governed. 
"People power" is no longer the obscure notion of 
dreamers, but the experience of millions. With this 
realization comes a new awareness of human rights, 
in the sense of political and personal freedom, and a 
fundamental questioning of the efficacy of milita- 
rism. To reach a situation where genuine self-deter- 
mination and democracy can come about, some of us 
will need to change our ideas about what constitutes 
a necessity or a right, and stop demanding automatic 

access to raw materials produced from other people's 

4) Migration - a growing awareness of the immen- 
sity of the problem of displaced persons, and the 
moral and logistical challenge which that presents. 
We are no longer able to escape the fact that, faced 
with hunger, war and oppression, and presented 
with no alternative, people will take the only action 
they know — that of taking themselves elsewhere. 

5) Disarmament - an as yet insufficiently articulated 
perception that militarism in fact is part of all these 
problems, not of their solutions. Those fonnerly 
known as East Europeans will be the people to 
provide a lead on this, though citizens in the West 
may prove surprisingly ready to follow. In Switzer- 
land recently a national referendum showed thirty 
six percent in favor of abolishing the army. 

6) Feminism- the slowly dawning awareness that a 
good fifty percent of the world's people are female 
and that they also have a history, traditions, insights 
and qualities which are important, indeed vital; that 
women and men need to discover their identity and 
celebrate in themselves, the tendencies and potentials 
that are nonnally labelled "feminine." An awareness 
also that without women's work not only would 
children not be reared, but the production of food 
and other products would grind to a halt. 

7) Spirituality - the realization that there is more 
than one great world religion wanting to play a key 
role in society, and we need to respond to religious 
differences with interest and understanding, not 
with fear and suspicion We are beginning to see 
that physical and spiritual well being are intertwined 
and that materialism alone is no recipe for individual 
or social fulfillment. The world's great religious 
traditions have a creative role to play, as must new 
fonns of spiritual thought and expression. 

8) Nonviolence - the clearest articulation of the 
deepest values of humanity is the concept of 
nonviolence: the concept of wholeness, of respect for 
life, of means and ends being one, of challenging and 
cherishing, of change and continuity, individuality 
and community. It links the most profound values of 
all the great faiths and philosophies and the deepest 
insights and experiences of individual human 
beings. Active nonviolence is crucial as the guiding 
principle by which the use of power is measured. 

If we can rediscover ourselves as children of the 


universe, willing to live in harmony with the earth, 
not in domination over it, interdependent with all 
other beings, then our relations with each other must 
surely fall into place. It seems unthinkable that we 
should learn to live tenderly with all other species 
and continue to neglect, dominate and abuse our 
own kind. War as a means of dealing with our 
difficulties appears in this context as absurd, milita- 
rism as a biological aberration. It is vital that we help 
people to see this and to understand that national 
needs and boundaries must be secondary to the 
needs of human beings and of the planet. 

"Reconciliation," the word which unites us all here, 
is a goal word for the 1990s. There is so much we 
need to reconcile, to bring together — in our own 
thinking, as well as in the world; so many elements 
to the work for peace and justice. We need to under- 
stand those elements and their relationship to each 
other — which are sometimes relationships of creative 

How does the right to self-determination for a 
particular group fit with the needs and rights of the 
wider entity or community, the rights of individual 
nations with the needs of the globe? How can we 
harmonize the idea of individual rights, responsibili- 

ties and conscience with the need to build commu- 
nity — which involves compromise? The next steps 
for peace and justice in Zimbabwe or Bangladesh 
will not be the same as the next steps for peace and 
justice in the United States or Britain. One thing we 
have in common though: the need for education and 
re-education of ourselves and of those around us. 
Education is empowerment. 

One last thing. We are sometimes so busy trying to 
transform the world that we fail to find time to talk 
to our neighbors, or, perhaps more importantly, to 
listen to them. It is easy in the peace movement to 
get into a ghetto mentality: easier, safer, to share our 
dreams with each other than with "them." But they 
need us, and we need them. If each week — even 
each month — we could really touch and be touched 
by one new person, the process of healing and 
transformation need not take so very long. 

Diana Francis, lives in Bath, England. This article is taKen i 
a talk she gave at US/FOR's 75th anniversary conference i 

taken from 




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